Deprivation of dietary fiber in specific-pathogen-free mice promotes susceptibility to the intestinal mucosal pathogen Citrobacter rodentium.

September 18, 2021 By:
  • Neumann M
  • Steimle A
  • Grant ET
  • Wolter M
  • Parrish A
  • Willieme S
  • Brenner D
  • Martens EC
  • Desai MS.

The change of dietary habits in Western societies, including reduced consumption of fiber, is linked to alterations in gut microbial ecology. Nevertheless, mechanistic connections between diet-induced microbiota changes that affect colonization resistance and enteric pathogen susceptibility are still emerging. We sought to investigate how a diet devoid of soluble plant fibers impacts the structure and function of a conventional gut microbiota in specific-pathogen-free (SPF) mice and how such changes alter susceptibility to a rodent enteric pathogen. We show that absence of dietary fiber intake leads to shifts in the abundances of specific taxa, microbiome-mediated erosion of the colonic mucus barrier, a reduction of intestinal barrier-promoting short-chain fatty acids, and increases in markers of mucosal barrier integrity disruption. Importantly, our results highlight that these low-fiber diet-induced changes in the gut microbial ecology collectively contribute to a lethal colitis by the mucosal pathogen Citrobacter rodentium, which is used as a mouse model for enteropathogenic and enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EPEC and EHEC, respectively). Our study indicates that modern, low-fiber Western-style diets might make individuals more prone to infection by enteric pathogens via the disruption of mucosal barrier integrity by diet-driven changes in the gut microbiota, illustrating possible implications for EPEC and EHEC infections.

2021 Sep. Gut Microbes.13(1):1966263.
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